VW, Daimler brave European downturn to offer top shareholder value

DETROIT -- Despite the malaise in the European car market, two German automakers and a French supplier have recently delivered the most value to shareholders of all global automotive companies, the consultancy PwC said Wednesday as it honored the winners of the Global Automotive Shareholder Value Awards, sponsored by Automotive News.

PwC chooses its honorees by calculating how much money investors would have made had they invested $100 in every automotive company either one year ago or three years ago.

For 2013, Volkswagen AG had the best three-year returns of all global automakers, 107 percent, thanks in large part to strong demand for Audi and Porsche luxury cars. Daimler AG, the maker of Mercedes-Benz luxury cars, delivered a one-year return of 68 percent, tops among global automakers.

Plastic Omnium, a French supplier of exterior parts and fuel systems, led the way among global suppliers over both spans of time, by delivering a 184 percent return over one year and a 282 percent return over three years. It also swept the supplier awards last year.

Likewise, the publicly held dealership group Lithia Motors Inc. repeated its sweep of the awards for U.S. auto retailers, with an 87 percent one-year return and 404 percent three-year return.

"These leading companies have recognized the importance of providing customers with the innovative products and services they want while meeting a growing global demand," Jeff Zaleski, the automotive transaction services partner at PwC, said in a statement. "Despite the challenges over the last several years, these companies have successfully focused on creating value for their shareholders."

PwC and Automotive News also release a quarterly "Shareholder Value Index," taking into account factors such as dividends, share buybacks and issuances of new shares.

Volkswagen had a three-year PwC index of 39 percent, while Daimler had a one-year PwC index of 29 percent. Plastic Omnium had a three-year index of 64 percent.

Ashland, Ore.-based Lithia had a PwC value index of 39 percent over one year and 123 percent over three years. That was nearly twice the value index of Plastic Omnium and triple the value index of Volkswagen, underscoring the Western dealership group's rapid recovery since its share price cratered in 2008 and 2009 at the peak of the recession.

You can reach Gabe Nelson at gnelson@crain.com

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